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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

FLORA INDIOA                      [Raftunculacece.
first indicated hy Lindley. The great sheathing base of the petiole, occasionally,
though rarely, developed into a stipule, is remarkably different from anything met
with iu tlte\4//0#aS families, but has much similarity to very common states of
herbaceous Saxifragucets and Itosacea> where the stipules are imperfectly or not
at all developed. L Araliacea we occasionally see these organs largely developed.
This is also the case in most species of Thalicfrumt in which genus also we have
frequently stipella), analogous in position and function to those of jLegumintwe,
The tribe Glemaiidt<f9 which differs from the rest of the Order by its frntescent
and generally scandent habit, and by its opposite leaves, is not equally distinct in
the floral organs, which are only distinguishable from those of Anemone by the val-
vate activation of the calyx and the elongated stamens. The opposite leaves are,
however, a very remarkable character, to which there is no approximation iu any
other part of the natural class, as it is usually understood, but which re-curs in
MowMiacea, a small Order usually placed near Laurace&t which we pruj-sc lo in-
clude in this part of the series.
The position at the commencement of the linear series, which has been as-
signed to RammculftceiP, must not be understood to indicate that they are considered
tlit; most highly-developed family of plants, though this was in all probability as-
sumed to be the case by the founder of our present arrangement. No part of the
Dicotyledonous class presents such a well-marked superiority in organization, as to
enable us to place it without hesitation at the commencement of the seines. It has,
however, been conjectured, with some appearance of plausibility, that those families
in which special adaptation of the floral organs nu& attained its utmost limit, :tre
situated at the highest part of the scale. Gamopetalous plants would therefore be
more perfect than polypctalons ones, syucnrpous ones more complete than apocarpous,
and those with adherent sepals would take a higher place than those in which the
ovary is five. It might for the same reason be conjectured that ciie-ovuled plants are
of a superior grade to those in which many seeds arc developed, especially if many
curpcllary leaves surround and protect a single ovule. If these views were carried
out, the Light!"*1 position in the vegetable kingdom would appear to belong to the
family of Lora.:tmiofif> in which all these features are combined with the utmost
simplicity of ovule, wiih a system of parasitism, and a highly abnormal mode of ve-
getation.
Contemplating plants from this point of view, Ranunciifacetp occupy a compa-
ratively low place. In this Order all the parts of the ilower exhibit the minimum
amount of deviation from the ordinary type of leaf, and a most remarkable tendency
to revert to it. They exhibit also a very great tendency to irregularity, not ouly
in the assumption of abnormal forms, but also in the great variation of size of
which they are -susceptible in each species. These circumstances are, we think,
highly confirmatory of the propriety of assigning to these plants a low place in the
scale, siucu in all Orders in which special adaptation is carried to a high, degree, the
shape of the calyx-tube, as well as of the petals, and of every part of the Dower, re-
mains remarkably constant in each species. The anthers of llammmJacea are in
like manner invariably basifixed, so that the stamens do not deviate so far from the
ordinary type of the leaf, as is the case in many other groups. .This is also the
case with the carpels, iu which the analogy to leaves is veiy manifest, especially
iu the folliciilar species. Both stamens and carpels vary much in size in different
individuals of the same species, as has already been indicated with regard to the
scpls and petals. It is very importaut that the student should bear this fact in
ffliud in the determination of species, undue weight having in many instances been
given to the size of these organs, which frequently continue to enlarge after the <,..
pausion of the ilower, in consequence of which many species have been founded on
trivial and unsatisfactory characters.
It has been usual to describe the ^\c.^anwicuUceas as having cxlrov* anthers,
but this is far from being universally, or even generally, the case, the cell* being
most commonly exactly lateral; it is only in the genus Rumtncufits that the dc~
liiscencc'of the anther* is cvideutly extrorse. This was first indicated'by Asa